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Argentina  INESfun

22 Feb 2020 at 13:37

There are about 300 recesses on one golf ball, and thanks to them, the ball flies three times farther than a smooth one. ... Balls of the same size...

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Hungary  Magician

31 Dec 2021 at 16:55

Thank you, more posts are coming next year! :)

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14 Nov 2022 at 15:03

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30 Sep 2022 at 19:47

Once More into the Loop

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United States of America Patrick Sheridan's blog« See all PatPenguin's blogs

Starting 2021 Off with a 2020 Lookback
04 Jan 2021 at 21:55 | Posted in: Website | Views: 2447 | Comments: 0
Starting 2021 Off with a 2020 Lookback
Me at the Summer O-Street Tournament

It would be surprising if any recap of the year didn’t make some sort of mention of the pandemic. It makes sense, it’s a pandemic after all. In the United States, you’d also be hard pressed not to mention politics, the President or the election in some way either. Luckily for minigolf, only one of the two played an impactful role in my 2020 year (and the minigolf year overall), so you’ll be spared anything overtly political in this post. If you are interested in seeing a more visual recap of the year, Tom Loftus from A Couple of Putts and I did our 2020 review for We’re Gonna Need a bigger Windmill over on YouTube (more on that show later in the post).

As I’m sure was the case with most people, 2020 started off promising in my minigolf world. There was new season of Holey Moley coming, the U.S. Open was back on one of my favorite tournament courses in NJ (and close to me), the Master’s and a trip to Myrtle Beach was on the schedule and who knows what courses lay ahead of me to add to The Putting Penguin. The previous year was my most exciting so there was a lot of energy going into this year. Of course, that all came to a screeching halt in March, but in looking back on the year it’s actually a bit surprising how much of my competitive minigolf year didn’t get impacted. Yes, we lost the U.S. Open entirely, which was definitely the biggest blow to my minigolf year, but the Master’s went on. Unfortunately, due to various COVID considerations and state specific restrictions I had to miss it his year for the first time in four years, but as you’ll see below I made up for it a bit in terms of being able to play competitive minigolf. The final hit of the virus was on the Lee Stoddard Dolphin Open as this year was going to be a big celebration of 30 years for the course but that got trimmed back due to COVID. Here’s hoping we get a chance to make up for it in 2021. The fact that I was able to play in 5 tournaments this year with everything going on was pretty exciting. The biggest impact of COVID was the removal of almost all other travel for leisure or business. Since March the only trips I’ve taken outside of Connecticut have been for minigolf tournaments. With none of that other travel, it’s impacted our ability to add new minigolf reviews over on the Putting Penguin, which has been a bit of a bummer. Part of the pleasure of being so connected in the minigolf world is getting a chance to play new courses.

With lockdowns in full effect in most of the world, a fun bit of inspiration came out of Italy given they were impacted early on by the pandemic. The #Puttathome social media challenges made its rounds quickly through the minigolf community as folks turned their living spaces into miniature golf holes and courses. Some were simple, some were complicated but in the end all were creative as people embraced the fun. I did a couple that were
fairly straightforward and might have gone further had I not been sidetracked by the next thing I found during “lockdown.”

Putt18 rolled into most of our lives in April. We had seen some videos our of Australia first and then the first Trans-Tasman match occurred between Australia and New Zealand. It wasn’t long before word got around some of the putting community and Tom Loftus and I were the first in the US to get in on the Putt18 train. With it looking like we’d be home a lot more than originally though I had been in the market for a putting mat anyway as the one I had at home was old and was more for the kids’ enjoyment now than anything serious. Putt18 fit rather perfectly into what I needed, with something that not only allowed for practice but also had some built in games so it wasn’t all just repetitively putting at a cup. The only drawback I will say is that getting the ball into the targets is a bit different skill than dropping a ball in the cup, so its not quite practice for the “real” thing but given I’ve now taken over a 1000 putts on it this year I’d say it fills a need just fine. It’s a little on the pricey side, especially to get it here to the States but it is a durable mat (just be careful not to let cats near it) so it seems to be a decent investment if you are an actively putt at home person. Moreover, if you are into putting yourself on camera to putt-at-home, it looks like the virtual leagues and tournaments that various Putt18 folks are organizing will be continuing at least into 2021 if not longer. My first foray into that was with Tom as part of the US, UK, Australia and NZ tournament where I personally managed a 3rd place finish as we collectively did as a Team USA as well. This turned into a summer league (well, summer for us and winter for the folks down under) where I finished 8th after seven grueling weeks on the mat.

In my part of the United States there was a lot of uncertainty about what in-person miniature golf would be like in 2020 until about mid-May when the restrictions came into focus and it looked like outdoor courses would be some of the first businesses able to open. Given the natural spacing between people and the limited interactions needed with staff, this allowed them to jump on the good weather not too much later than they would have normally otherwise opened here. With various COVID restrictions and weather in other parts of the country, we had seen courses open up earlier in the year and courses hold tournaments. This gave us some hope here in the Northeast and overall it turned into a happy reality. Other than losing the U.S. Open in New Jersey, all of the scheduled tournaments in the Northeast were held in 2020 and there were even some new ones added to the docket.

It took until August for me to play in my first tournament and it was a re-vamped Farmington Miniature Golf tournament, the same one which I had won for the first time in 2019. For the past couple of years, several folks had asked the course to reduce the tournament from 3 round over 2 days to just a 1 day tournament to make it easier for people to attend. Using COVID as an opportunity to make the change, the course did. While I of course knew I could win again, I also knew that such a short tournament, on a course that doesn’t always have the most consistent of bounces, brought with it a lot of luck and challengers. So I was pleasantly surprised when I put together a quality second round
and won , becoming only the second back-to-back winner in the tournament’s 39 years.

That set the stage for more success in August as I made the trip to an O-Street Miniature Golf tournament for the first time. They were holding their 2nd $1000 tournament and I had the opportunity to take my first trip out of Connecticut since March, so I jumped on it. It was also nice to see my fellow Penguin Mandy who wade her way up from Maryland for the tournament. With only a couple hours of practice on a course we had only seen about 16 hours earlier, I started out strong in the first of 2 rounds setting a course record of 35. I would finish strong as well putting in what I consider to be my
best ever tournament performance with the course record, the most aces and the top prize in a field of over 40 putters.

As the pages turned to September the tournament calendar stayed strong and I wondered if I could continue my success at another tournament I had won before, the Lee Stoddard Maine State Open. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite find a consistent putting stroke and I slipped
to 4th place after a series of 2nd places in that tournament. I had to then quickly turn my attention to running our tournament, the Matterhorn International Pro-Am. Thankfully at that point the COVID restrictions were still fairly simple for miniature golf so it wasn’t much of an added layer for us to have to deal with at the tournament. However, the tournament slippage that started in Maine continued here and I fell out of the top 4 for the first time in the tournament history, finishing 5th place .

With travel to the Master’s not practical this year, I instead chose to play in the new Fall Classic up at Taber’s in Maine, a course that had been on my docket for years to get to. I wanted to play their summer tournament, which I again missed this year, so the family and I use this as another excuse to get away in a safe manner, making the trek up there over the normal Master’s weekend. It was a good choice as I managed to hold onto
3rd place after some up and down rounds, which I was happy with as a way to end my tournament year.

Outside of tournaments, we did manage to get in a few course reviews for
The Putting Penguin this year, though the total was much lower than a normal year. While we still have a couple of reviews to post, we visited 9 courses this year, of which 5 were new to us. We’ll finish the calendar year on the site with 364 courses reviewed, 199 of which were our own reviews. With the few we need to post we’ll be up over 200 courses that we have officially reviewed since 2001. Given 2021 is our 20th anniversary we’re going to look at making some custom gear to celebrate, which may include something you haven’t seen from us before so stay tuned to those socials if minigolf collectibles are your thing.

Despite all of the international tournaments being canceled for 2021, life on the World Minigolf Sport Federation front wasn’t slow. This year I served on both the Entourage Committee and the Media Committee. The Entourage side was a bit slower without in-person events to worry about, but on the media side we used this as an opportunity to make some plans and start executing on a vision. Sarah Schumacher took over as the media chair and has been passionate about setting the brand for the WMF, and used the spike in folks knowing how to video conference to our advantage. We had several calls this year and have put together a pretty good strategy to expand our coverage of the sport when tournaments return as well as marketing ourselves more to the general public. Here’s hoping we work on becoming more “mainstream” in 2021!

The last big thing for me personally in 2020, I alluded to a bit above in the first paragraph. This year, Tom Loftus and I decided to take a jump into other media as a way to pass lockdown time and be engaged with the new season of Holey Moley. So we started We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Windmill, our take on a recap show for Holey Moley. After some technical challenges and figuring out the best way to stream, we got it under control and you can catch up on all the old episodes over on
A Couple of Putts. It ended up being a cathartic outlet this whole year. Not only was it just fun to talk about the show like we might have if we could have gotten together in person, but it was amazing all the guests we had one from close friends to even the winner of the season. Just another great way to highlight how wonderful the minigolf community is. With how much we enjoyed it, we are turning our attention to 2021 and looking to see how we can expand the show’s topics as well as the media format. It’s another way both our sites continue to evolve with the times, always with the goal of promoting miniature golf as much as we can. So give us a look in 2021 and help us spread the word!

With that, my 2020 year of minigolf comes to an end. It’s hard to look at 2021 and make any specific predictions with the state of the world. I’m pretty confident that all of the tournaments that ran this year will run again and my plan right now is to make it to most of them. I’m hoping that things are right enough by May that we have the U.S. Open at Putt U, but that can be a toss-up based on local rules and Pennsylvania has been one of the strictest this whole time. I’m also hoping to make a return to the Master’s this year in October. It also seems like there is a season 3 of the US version of Holey Moley on the way, and the Australian version is teed up to start early in 2021, so we have that media to look forward to. If all that’s holds true then we’ll definitely be expanding our streaming reach, which will be on the plate anyway as mentioned above. Beyond that who knows what will occur in the world of minigolf next year but I’m looking forward to seeing what steps to the tee!

The views expressed in this blog are solely the views of the writer and do not represent the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), Minigolfnews.com or any other organization that the writer may be associated with unless expressly stated in the blog.

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